Millions of people worldwide suffer from high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. It’s a disease that’s all too common to doctors and health professionals, and one that drug companies are making a fortune from. Here we’ll take a closer look at hypertension, the common causes, and how you can avoid it.
What is High Blood Pressure?
Before we define high blood pressure, let’s define blood pressure. Blood pressure is the measurement of pressure exerted on the vessels that carry blood throughout your body. Now, this is an important measurement because these vessels (arteries, capillaries, etc) are very small and delicate. When there is too much force pushing blood through your vessels, they become damaged, stretched and weak. This is called high blood pressure.
Why is High Blood Pressure Dangerous?
When blood vessels are stretched and damaged, several issues can occur. One of the common effects is an increased buildup of plaque and cholesterol in the body. This occurs when the vessels are stretched and scarred, and as a result they catch debris floating through them. High blood pressure can also weaken the vessels, which can lead to strokes and aneurysms.
Narrow, blocked arteries can cause a heart attack, because your heart will have to work harder to pump blood through these areas.
Common Causes of High Blood Pressure
The first question most people ask when they’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure is “how did I get this?” Your doctor would need to run several tests to help pinpoint the cause, but here are some of the most common causes.
People who are overweight or obese have an increased risk for developing hypertension. When you carry excess weight, your heart has to work harder to do it’s job. Losing as little as ten pounds could help lower your blood pressure and put you in the green zone when it comes to heart health.
A diet high in fat, sugar and (especially) salt can wreak havoc on your blood pressure levels. This occurs because salt helps the body retain water, which adds to your overall weight. The additional strain on your heart raises your blood pressure and puts you in the danger zone.
Studies show that high blood pressure runs in families. This means that if your parents or close relatives have it, you’re at a higher risk of developing it too. In cases like this, it’s very important to eat right and exercise regularly to avoid developing the disease.
How to Avoid High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a deadly, common disease, but it’s not complicated. There are some things you can do right now to avoid it all together
- Eat a healthy diet, low in sodium, fat and sugar
- Get plenty of exercise – bike riding, hiking, skating and other fun activities all count towards increasing your physical activity level.
- Don’t smoke
- Limit your alcohol intake
- Keep your stress levels low
- Manage your weight
If you’re at risk, or even if you just want to know more about high blood pressure, there are many resources available online. The best tool you have to fight it is education. Armed with the right knowledge, we, as a global community, can defeat this disease and better educate future generations about hypertension.